The Villainess (Blu-ray Review)

Bloody revenge is at the heart of the stylish kinetic South Korean action-thriller The Villainess hitting Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD November 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.  Certified “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, this welcome shot of adrenaline to the classic femme fatale story follows a ruthless female assassin who leaves a trail of bodies behind her as she seeks her blood-spattered revenge.  Honed from childhood into a merciless killing machine by a criminal organization, assassin Sook-hee is recruited as a sleeper agent with the promise of freedom after ten years of service – and she jumps at the chance for a normal life.  But soon enough, secrets from her past destroy everything she’s worked for, and now nobody can stand in her way as she embarks on a roaring rampage of revenge.  Directed by Jung Byung-gil (Confession of Murder), The Villainess stars Kim Ok-bin (ThirstThe Front Line), Shin Ha-kyun (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) and Bang Sung-jun (Horror Stories 2Pluto).  The Villainess Blu-ray also contains bonus materials that include a Making-of featurette that highlights the action choreography and the characters as well as Teaser and Theatrical Trailers.


Taking a page right out of the La Femme Nikita playbook and updating with a kinetic John Wick sensibility, The Villainess is a dazzling flick that covers a lot of familiar ground.  Meaning the done-to-death premise of a trained fighting female recruited to become a top assassin is fortunately eclipsed not only by a stunning array of visual action eye candy, but a savory solid turn by ample action maven Kim Ok-bin.

Sook-hee is a gal who has been trained to kill since she was a little girl.  Taught to kill at an early age by a ruthless crime boss and after going on a bloody revenge rampage, she finds herself taken in by a secret government organization that gives her an ultimatum – work as their operative for ten years and gain her freedom or die.  But years later with the complications of her new daughter, a new husband and demons from her past all crashing down on her, Sook-hee is forced to fight for her life.

The above description sounds very Moviefone, but with only a handful of twists and turns within The Villainess (style does surpass substance here!) I’m not going to ruin them.  Rest assured that Sook-hee’s training, passion and vengeance seeking anger are put to the ultimate action test and as a result the film pushes viewers into maximum movie violence overdrive.  Infusing everything from Hardcore Henry’s POV perspective to a body count that would make a B-movie blush, The Villainess and Director Jung Byung-gil aren’t afraid to use an everything AND the kitchen sink approach to their big action set pieces (the motorcycle tunnel fight is pretty spectacular!) to make up for any ho-hum story shortcomings.

Plus as the leading lethal lady herself, Kim Ok-bin adds just the right amount of martial arts skills and facial viciousness to make the rough and tumble character in The Villainess truly her own. Not that her more quiet dramatic scenes aren’t believable, but Ok-bin seems more at home when fists of fury are flying fast.

So while the story here is pretty stock, the action is most assuredly not and thankfully in The Villainess there’s a ton of it. An action film on acid that’s lovingly shot out of a cannon, this one definitely keeps the movie blood pumping.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: The cinematography by Park Jung-hun is top notch and as such the images – even CGI heavy ones – are crisp and clear. (Even the night scenes!)

Depth: With small amounts of cast in various scenes there’s not a ton, but during the big battle brawls there’s full use of the space.

Black Levels: Perfect – again all night shots have just the right amount of mood. (And you can see them!)

Color Reproduction: Light or dark doesn’t matter – looks damn fine!

Flesh Tones: Again depends on the bright or dim settings, but always the right color.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Formats(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Stereo 2.0, Korean Stereo 2.0

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Most scenes, especially those heavy with action, have just the right amount of high notes that hold attention.

Low Frequency Extension: The brilliance of the high stuff is that the more moody low items when played isolated hold the dark tone.

Surround Sound Presentation: Great surround – motorcycles wiz by!

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue sounds fine, but since this one is subtitled it’s being able to read the words that’s most important.  (They’re good!)


The Blu-ray for The Villainess comes in a two-disc set with both a Blu-ray and DVD copy.

Making Of – The Action Choreography (SD, 2:36) – A rather short promo that features more of the glossy stuff that behind the scenes interviews and the like – wanted to hear more from the talented Kim Ok-bin!

Making Of – The Characters (SD, 1:42) – Even shorter promo that’s just a character roundup.

Plus there is a Teaser Trailer (HD, 0:55) and Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:02) as well as Trailers for Triple Threat Teaser (HD, 1:11), Better Watch Out (HD, 2:02) and Train To Busan (HD, 1:55).


A familiar but fun and visually savvy action flick that once again proves sending a woman to do a movie man’s action job is always best. Score would be higher, but with the utter lack of extras here this one might as well be a tasty bare bones release – worth watching but perhaps not owning.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

1 Response to “The Villainess (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    I need/want to check this out!